Oklahoma Video Surveillance Laws

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Oklahoma video surveillance laws depend largely upon its Security of Communications Act. While the act doesn't explicitly mention the usage of video surveillance equipment, the law regulates and sets penalties for interception of "oral communications" that are procured through "any electronic, mechanical or other device." Video surveillance equipment constitutes such a device whenever it has an audio track or allows lipreading of its subjects.

One-Party Versus Two-Party Consent

In public places such as in retail shops and on street corners, video surveillance is legal and commonplace. However, in locations such as private residences or wherever there's a reasonable expectation of privacy, video surveillance by a third party is prohibited by federal law. On the state level, 38 out of 50 states (including Oklahoma) allow video surveillance if at least one party consents to the recording. However, video footage recorded for "the purpose of committing any criminal act" is prohibited. For example, if you videotaped someone engaged in an embarrassing activity for the purpose of extortion, the recording would be in violation of Oklahoma law. The perpetrator of such an act or similar violations shall be punished by a fine of not less than $5,000, imprisonment up to five years or both.

Exceptions to the Security of Communications Act

Any law enforcement agent may conduct video surveillance when at least one of the parties has consented to the recording. Further, if the law enforcement agent employs the services of a third party to conduct the video surveillance, that party is also immune from prosecution. Finally, officers, employees and agents of a communications carrier may not be prosecuted when conducting random monitoring for "mechanical or service quality control checks." For instance, a company that transmitted live video webcams over the Internet could examine the feeds for quality assurance purposes.

Video Surveillance in Oklahoma Prisons

Any officer or employee of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections may monitor inmates as long as they're given "prior and conspicuous notice of the surveillance." In that regard, the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) installed an HD surveillance system that records inmate activity to "resolve conflicts between inmates or refute false claims of negligence or use of excessive force." The high resolution of the HD footage will allow the Department of Corrections to provide crucial evidence to the district attorney's office that wasn't previously available through analog video.

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About the Author

Noel Lawrence has written on cultural affairs and cinema for Release Print and OtherZine since 2000. He holds a graduate degree in Russian literature from Stanford University and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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